By Lily Womble
You’re awesome. You have a great group of friends, a career that’s moving on up and you feel empowered in most areas of your life. But when it comes to dating, things don’t feel that put together. Why do dating apps suck so much?
- It’s not you, it’s science.
Cognitive overload is a real thing, and not even the biggest overachiever among us can beat it.
Dr. Helen Fisher, Match Group’s scientific advisor, explains the effects of cognitive overload: “You meet so many people that you can’t decide and make no decision at all.”
Active use of multiple dating apps makes cognitive overload and dating app burnout inevitable.
- You’re using them like they’re easy.
Most of my clients have a graveyard of dating apps on their phones. They’ve downloaded (and deleted) every app under the sun, hoping to replicate the magic of a friend who met her boyfriend on Tinder. This is what I like to call the App Trap.
Dating apps are designed like slot machines, which is why they can be addictive, fun and equally frustrating. We’re swiping until we get the “reward” we want – like a cute match or an ask out.
“Swiping ‘till you find it”, inevitably turns into a profile, message or moment that triggers a negative feeling. Cue resentment and burnout.
- You’re sick of the bad experiences, and it’s easier not to try.
The crappy messages and terrible dates have stacked up in your memory to form an industrial storage facility of sucky dating stories. We’ve adopted these horror stories as truth every time we make an effort to date…and they’re scary as hell to confront.
Here’s how to change your game:
- Pick One Or Two
Not enough emphasis is placed on picking the tool that is best for your personality.
To get down to which dating app you’ll be happiest and most successful on, write out what sets you off about swiping and what makes you feel empowered in the process.
For example, do unsolicited messages make you sick? Do you get overwhelmed by limitless options? What makes you feel powerful when you’re swiping? Your answers to these questions will inform which one or two apps you should choose.
Choosing just one or two apps will greatly reduce your cognitive overload, leading to more sustainable, successful and happy swiping.
- Find Your Swiping Tipping Point
Swiping means moving through an emotionally charged minefield. Odds are you’re going to get triggered along the way. There’s a moment where you start to feel icky when swiping. When you don’t listen to and honor that moment, you’re running on a sprained ankle.
To avoid this emotionally sustained swiping injury, try to implement a Swiping Tipping Point. This is the moment when you NEED to put your phone down and do something nice for yourself.
When you experiment to find and then honor your swiping tipping point, you’ll create your own rules f engagement and be less likely to burn out. It’s more likely you’ll find matches that are worth your time.
- Rewrite Your Story
The stories you’ve collected over years of dating might just be what is getting in the way of hopeful, intentional swiping. If you’re swiping without a strategy or tipping point in mind, you’re just going to fuel those negative stories. Changing your dating app game starts with knowing what you want, and redefining what that looks like in practice.
My clients come to me with a strong sense of self. But they struggle to articulate their specific preferences. My client Laura is a great example of this. She struggled to share what it was exactly that she needed and wanted. But session by session, we worked on how to clearly define and find what sort of person would make her come alive.
She rewrote her story by getting specific and intentional about where and how she was using her dating time, with her specific preferences guiding her search. After our work together, she almost immediately met and fell in love with a guy who “didn’t check the boxes, but who had the right essence.” Rewriting your story by learning your preferences is the jumping off point.
You’re not crazy or lazy if dating apps aren’t working for you. If you use these tips to write your own rules of swipe engagement, you’ll be closer to having an inbox with dates that are worth your time.
Lily Womble is the founder of date transformation platform Brazen. She’s the third most successful matchmaker at the largest matchmaking company in the U.S. After setting up dates for hundreds of women around the country, she knows the dating landscape online and off. She has developed a coaching practice which interrupts common dating wisdom to put her clients in the driver seat of their dating lives. Originally from the deep south, Lily considers NYC home.